Once, small businesses were at a distinct disadvantage compared to larger companies that had more financial resources. Smaller firms rarely tried to challenge or compete against larger ones and accepted their role of pursuing local customers with specific needs.
But that’s all changing. Thanks to a range of new tools, applications, and technologies, small companies now challenge and compete with larger ones, even given a substantial disparity in assets and resources.
How is this possible? The following technologies play a key role:
1. Social Media Automation Tools
Social media by itself is highly effective in leveling the playing field for small businesses against large organizations. It allows you to get your brand in front of millions of people without having to pay for the exposure.
But social media automation tools take it one step further by allowing small businesses to schedule posts, monitor interactions, and collect valuable data on users. Hootsuite is one of the best examples.
2. Customer Relationship Management Software
Management of customer relationships is one of the most essential investments a small business can make, but it requires a lot of time. It’s too easy for this responsibility to take a backseat when you have dozens of other obligations.
But with customer relationship management (CRM) software, companies are able to get organized, stay on top of communication, analyze data fully, and improve lead generation. There are tons of good options, but Insightly is among the most popular (for good reasons).
3. Inventory Management Software
Closing sales is one thing; actually getting the product to the customer in an efficient and accurate manner is another. Fortunately, small businesses don’t need to make expensive investments in supply chains to maximize efficiency and accuracy.
Inventory management solutions, such as Sellbrite, centralize inventory control and reduce common problems like over- and underselling.
4. Help Desk Solutions
Solid customer service is something users have come to count on. In fact, it’s often one of the primary reasons an individual chooses to go with a small firm over a larger brand.
From the business, it can be a challenge when available resources no longer satisfy the demand. Here, help desk solutions — such as Help Scout — automate these processes and ensure clients get a fast response.
5. Virtual Assistants
Certain tasks, only employees can handle. But other, time-consuming tasks could be outsourced with no loss of quality. For smaller businesses, the obstacle with outsourcing has often been price.
This is no longer a problem. Virtual assistants will handle administrative tasks as well as basic marketing and sales operations for pennies on the dollar. Platforms like Time etc have a strong reputation in the industry.
6. Cloud Accounting
Accounting can be a headache for almost every business owner … especially if you don’t have a full-time accounting department. Since accounting must be accurate, balancing the books too often keeps business owners working late into the night.
Cloud accounting software is changing this game. Solutions like FreshBooks automate complicated processes and create intuitive reports that make it easy to see where everything stands at any given moment. Thus, small firms are able to focus on customer service and sales instead of number-crunching.
7. Virtual Offices
Finally, virtual offices have experienced a surge in popularity in small business. If you aren’t familiar with them, virtual offices are all-in-one services that a small company can pay for in order to enjoy big-business benefits.
Depending on the company, services may include physical mailing addresses, phone numbers, phone-answering services, rented meeting space, access to various subscription services, and even personal assistants. VirtualOffice.com is one of the leaders in this area, but a number of reputable companies are active all over the country.
Are You Utilizing the Right Technology?
If you’re a small-business owner or a decision-maker in an outfit that seeks to compete with the big boys, you have little choice but to adopt some of the technologies and solutions discussed here. Recognize your areas of weakness and invest accordingly.